OK....Here goes....I was briefly in contact with Wayne Esaias of NASA as they have a global hive weight scale project. They map them from space and recored weight gains and losses during the whole year for study. I had seen pictures of the scales beekeepers are using to weigh their hives and they are usually the old Fairbanks baggage or cargo scales. He mentioned to me that one can build a high tech scale using load cells. I had never heard of these so naturally I "googled" them and lo and behold. One can construct a scale using these nifty devices. I am trying to figure out exactly how to do this so if anyone out here has any ideas I would appreciate a collaboration of sorts.
Wayne also mentioned to me about "HOBO" data collectors. These are quite nice devices which are placed inside the hive (they are small) and can record temp, relative humidity, CO2 etc every few seconds or minutes. Every couple weeks you trot out to your hive with your laptop, plug in the USB cable and download the data.
These 2 devices would make us all high tech beekeepers. I just need some help in figuring out how to make these work and hopefully we can share our info.
Any takers????....Please let me know.
I have used Dallas i-buttons and 1-wire devices to monitor and record hive temperatures. There are many hi-tech options out there, but they are usually a little pricey and become cost prohibitive once you start multiplying out for all your hives.
Most hygrometers are unreliable. The good news is you can calibrate them very easily. even if all that means is you know how far off they are. Just Google hygrometer calibration and you will find many links to instructions.
Having a average hive on a scale so you can track weight gains or losses per day are a great learning tool. you can tell if the bees are maintaining adding or loosing weight. If you have a few bad days and the bees can't forage you can determine the amount of stores the bees are using to maintain the hive and the brood. You will know if the bees are in a major honey flow with in 2 days of it starting and when it has stopped. You don't need a scale under every hive to tell you that. One will give you a good indexation of whats happening in your area.
Temperature probes in the hive are a wast of time, trust the bees! When the temp outside is above 97* deg the bees are going to cool the hive by fanning over water droplets and will keep the hive from over heating, the brood area at about 97*. If the temp outside the hive gets cold the bees will cluster and maintain a inside core temp of 95* deg the temp outside the cluster in the hive will be close to the outside air temperature as the bees are not trying to keep the hole hive warm only the cluster.
Place a High low thermometer in the shade and record the temp high and low for the day along with precipitation and forecast along with the hive weights and see if there is any correlations. you can also note bee flight, pollen colors, whats in bloom and what flower you see the bees visiting. There are lots of old platform scales in old barns out there put an add on line or in a country newspaper and see who contacts you.
An old platform scale will hardly log data.
I like this general idea but would need to do a lot of catching up on just what I think would work. but the idea of logging weight, temp, humidity and even Co2 sounds like a good idea to me.
It might help eliminate the subjectivity concerning hives and data that is being shared. a weak hive to one person may be considered a normal one to the next. I lifted a super and it felt heavy is really not of much use to the next person. I bench press 670 and lifting an entire hive does not feel heavy.
Nor can it observe the color of pollen or the color of the sky to know if the day was sunny or cloudy, how windy it was either. These are all tools to be used in our observations of hives and understanding the relationship between weather, moisture, and the plants that are in bloom and how it effects the hive. A hive on A scale easily and conveniently assessable will increase you understanding of what is happening in the hive. A lot of times the old platform scales are available by going and visiting you grand parents of in my case Uncle Pete He was happy to see it being put to use. I gave him a 3 Kg, 6.6 lb bucket of honey for it. at the time worth about $10.00
Apisbees, I case you aren't aware of it there are already other things tracking many of those other issues. At any rate you are then saying because it can't do it all there is no need to use it at all. You have some high expectations. But I suppose that works just fine for you way of not doing it. For those that ever will, we need something a little more realistic.
if you are new to this the number of variable is much larger than even I like to think about. some of these variable may be important and some not a bit. technology may provide a number that is 10% more accurate but the error term in the many variable quickly makes this advantage mute. then of course you have to consider the resources required to maintain almost anything.... with low tech the upkeep is low and with high tech almost anything and everything will go wrong <expect in year two that the technology will be obsolete and will need to be replaced. almost by definition no techno fix will be worth the dollars spend for commercial bee keeper... so there is also almost no likely hood that cost saving involved with mass production can be realized.
I just did a google search for the i button temp loggers and a lot of the listings show prices from 1 to 5 cents each when ordered in bulk. I suspect they did not list the price since some other prices show $22 per button. Most are listed as the DS1921 (Temperature only) but I saw one for the DS1923 that is both temperature and Humidity.
As for the weight. The main thing that is stuck in my mind is how to get a hive to set on the sensor.
I suppose you could have just one edge of the hive on the sensor and calculate from there. My problem with that is my bees don't pack the hive in a consistent manner. they favor one side to another.
Also what is the value of "Relative" measurements. That is to be measuring from one edge and you at least get the change in weight rather than a total weight. doubling the measurement then gives you a rough total weight that is a guesstimate at best.
For now I am to much at a loss as to the physical makeup of a sensor to be able to picture a marriage between the mechanics and the technology. Put one of the gadgets in my hand and it would not be long before I was able to think up something. What I am picturing for now is a sensor that about the size of a hockey puck. how do you stand a hive on that?